The essence of good governance is to effectively lead and guide the instruments of the State to meet
the needs of citizens, effectively balancing present needs while anticipating future trends. The ability
to optimally achieve these balances is what defines good governance.
If good governance is difficult to achieve under normal conditions, it is even more difficult today in Africa with the advent of global terrorism and insurgency. In this paper, I intend to show how much more complex it has become in the post-modern era of instability to deliver good governance. I will also offer some examples of how we in Nigeria are trying to accelerate our effectiveness under highly complex circumstances.
Basic Challenge in Governance:
It is important first to understand the very basic challenge of governance in a developing country. The needs and aspirations of citizens are often so diverse that good governance is needed to balance various interests while focusing on the key goal of
Today, Africa is fast approaching a situation where coups and dictatorships will be things of the past. This means that leaders must now earn their legitimacies by delivering on the complex and often competing needs of citizens. The subtleties of this complex situation need to be clearly understood by scholars whose insights and knowledge are critical in shaping our understanding of good governance.
This is one of the reasons why I am excited to be here at this conference being organized by Huhu Group and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard
University, which has a reputation for being at the forefront of science and knowledge on good governance.
Governance in the Post-Modern Era:
Let me expatiate on some of the new challenges in governance in the post-modern age. The post-modern age, brought about by rapid advances in
the development and use of information and telecommunication technology, has dramatically changed the notion of effective leadership and the implications of ineffective governance.
On one hand, new opportunities for income and wealth generation are increasingly accruing to the well-
educated and talented knowledge workers, but this leaves a large and growing proportion of the population with unmet aspirations impatient for
This has not only increased the pressure on governments to provide better services to their citizens, it has also increased the need for accountability and transparency. Global, regional and national imbalances in access to healthcare, job opportunities, education, housing and justice are now more readily perceived, creating dissonance and heightening feelings of personal
insecurity. Leaders can no longer easily get away with ignoring the needs of the masses, although those needs have become a lot more difficult to balance.
Again, this is particularly important in
Africa where many feel insecure; where past neglect of the people is providing spaces where discontent flourishes; which insurgents exploit to challenge constituted authority.
The absence of good governance is regarded by the World Bank as the most important, if not the sole cause of Africa’s under development. One of the lessons from the Middle-East and North African countries (the MENA region) is that the perception of ineffective governance can easily lead to regime change. A key challenge is therefore how to govern in ways that ensure the masses feel secure and committed in order to maintain peace and stability.
Leaders today must utilize resources and structures within and outside their governance domain to ensure a solid foundation for society’s advancement. Let me use Nigeria as a case study to further support my point. In Nigeria, decades of truncated democracy following serial Military coups led to deficits in multiple areas of governance. The return to long-term democracy, beginning in 1999, afforded us the opportunity to begin rebuilding our governance institutions and institute long needed reforms in the areas of education, health, science, technology, infrastructure, conduct of elections, justice sector reforms, human rights, socio-economic development and national security.